Ark. Senate discusses near-$5 million addition to BRTC LETA program

Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 9:39 PM CST
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POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - A proposal in Arkansas could have a huge impact on a Region 8 college.

If passed, SB331 would appropriate funds to Black River Technical College to build a new barracks for the Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA).

The construction would be just over $4.5 million.

“For a one-time investment, we could save the state a lot of money and then put that money back and expand the programs,” BRTC President Dr. Martin Eggensperger said. “Rather than having somewhere between 80 and 120 students a year, we’d be able to go up to around 180 students or more.”

BRTC spends over $100,000 a year on room and board for LETA, which Dr. Eggensperger called one of the most expensive actions for the school.

As BRTC doesn’t have dorm rooms, cadets usually stay in a hotel during the 13-week program. Dr. Eggensperger added the college has consistently asked the state for assistance and adding barracks would help relieve the burden.

“What we’re looking for is a way to expand our program and grow it without adding costs,” Dr. Eggensperger said. “That $100,000 [per year] would be able to be rolled over and extend the contracts of our faculty members so we can teach now over the summer and add an entire other cohort of students.”

Randolph County Deputy Hampton Owens said he sees students from all over the state in the program and adding barracks wouldn’t only be convenient for those who live far away from Pocahontas but would help build relationships.

“The morale that I think it would bring to be able to be here and not have to worry about the hotel but be able to be at the barracks here on site would be phenomenal,” Dept. Owens said. “It would really help, I think, with just coming together as that family unit.”

The proposal was read in the Senate on Feb. 10, but no action has been taken yet.

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